October is Physical Therapy Month and time is running out to hug your PT…or, even a kind “thank you” will do. This year’s awareness campaign for PT Month is on the ever increasingly use of opioids for pain. America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. According to the CDC, in 2012 health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills. In America, every 25 minutes a baby is born in opioid withdrawal.
Physical therapy is a safe and effective alternative to opioids for long-term pain management and prevention. Physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) have a responsibility to understand the full scope of the epidemic and its potential impact on their patients and clients. Click here to print out a handout on the opioid epidemic and the potential for physical therapy to be part of the solution.
DID YOU KNOW? Next to pain and headaches, dizziness is one of the most frequent symptoms reported to physicians. And, the most common treatment is medication. Studies find that medications are used between 60-90% of the time with antivert (or meclizine) being the most widely prescribed(1,2). Yet, in the general population only 31 percent of patients receiving this medication for dizziness found it helpful(3).
Medication to lessen the effects of dizziness (known as vestibular suppressants) should ideally be taken in the acute (or early) phases – typically no more than 5 days of the initial onset of symptoms. Also keep in mind, various studies have shown that vestibular suppressants can actually increase symptoms of dizziness and often result in sleepiness and/or feeling groggy. These medications can also increase the time for recovery and increase the risk for falls(4,5).
Vestibular therapy, a specialized form of physical therapy, has been found to improve vestibular symptoms 85% of the time compared to vestibular suppressants resulted in <50% improvement(6). In addition to dizziness, other vestibular symptoms may include blurriness, unsteadiness, nausea, foggy headedness and/or fatigue. Other symptoms of inner ear problems can include fullness in the ears, tinnitus and/or hearing changes.
Symptoms due to vestibular disorders can diminish quality of life in everyday activities. They also contribute to emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, one of the consequences of having a vestibular disorder is that symptoms frequently cause people to adopt a sedentary lifestyle in order to avoid bringing on, or worsening, dizziness and imbalance. As a result, decreased muscle strength and flexibility, increased joint stiffness, and reduced stamina can occur.
Treatment strategies used in rehabilitation can also be beneficial for these secondary problems. Successful treatment begins with a thorough evaluation. At our 360 Balance & Hearing Center, we use a comprehensive clinical assessment starts with a detailed history of the patient’s symptoms a medical history review. Additionally, information about medications, hearing and/or vision problems is gathered. The assessment also includes administering different tests to more objectively evaluate the patient’s problems. The therapist will screen the visual and vestibular systems to observe how well eye movements are being controlled. Testing assesses sensation, pain, muscle strength, range of motion, coordination, posture, balance, and walking ability.
At our 360 Balance & Hearing Center, we have over 85 years of combined clinical experience and have received a number of rewards for our services. However, one principal remains: Once you have seen one patient with dizziness, you have seen one patient with dizziness. The treatment plan MUST be customized to each individual. If you or a loved one suffers from dizziness, balance and/or hearing disorder, we would be honored to be your provider of choice. If you are not able to access our clinic here in Austin then you can look for a provider near you at http://vestibular.org/finding-help-support/provider-directory.
And, remember...PT Month or not, we always welcome hugs!
Click here for a snapshot of the numbers at 360 Balance & Hearing Center. YOU CAN COUNT ON US!